Can you remember a time when AI (Artificial Intelligence) sounded like something straight out of Star Trek (hi there, Mr. Data!)? It feels like centuries ago, doesn’t it?
In a sense, it was. Years seem like centuries in the tech world and the progress we see every day creeps upon us.
Today, AI still seems a buzzword. In some respects it is. We do love our acronyms, don’t we?
AI, ML, SaaS, DL — they sound almost made up. And, whenever you see them in a headline, your (well, at least my) first thought is that you’re about to read another hyped-up article.
Behind the hype, we can all admit that AI isn’t as foreign as it once was. In fact, it’s part of our everyday life, private-wise and business-wise.
As I type this, my auto-correct flags any typo. That’s AI — one of its simpler business uses. As I text my friend, predictive typing tries to make my life easier by suggesting a full word I can click on after inputting only a few letters. That’s also AI — one of the ways we use it our personal life without even a second thought.
You can find more ways in which you use AI every day here, I won’t bore you with any more examples.
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?
AI in Sales and Marketing — Top Changes it Brought about and How to Adapt
First, the very good news:
1. The Reconciliation of Sales and Marketing
Call it what you will, someone wrote at least one article about it. There are hundreds of millions of results (!) about this. Almost as many as the feud between cats and dogs.
As a marketer with 10+ years of experience, I’ve always found it peculiar and saddening.
Why hate each other when you could work together?
Let me rephrase that: why hate each other when you should work together?
The truth is that, whenever marketing and sales worked together, both their results were better. Sales reps can gain invaluable insights into customer needs and behaviors. If they are willing to share them with their colleagues in marketing, the latter can come up with hyper-targeted campaigns that, in turn, generate…you guessed it, more sales.
One hand washes the other and everybody profits, especially the company’s bottom line.
AI has put an end to this feud. Armed with CRMs and marketing automation tools, sales reps and marketers had easy access to each other’s insights and collaterals.
Integration brought a new level of awesomeness to this new peace treaty: seamless communication.
You don’t have to ping your colleague in sales to ask about how customers interact with your solution. You can simply open your Salesforce dashboard and get all the info you need.
Better yet, you can set a simple rule once and have those sales insights turned into an automatically-triggered email campaign in Mailchimp — as long as your Salesforce account is integrated with Mailchimp.
Quick illustrative example: your sales colleagues have just made a great deal, selling the latest luxury sedan in your offer. Once the client’s info is in Salesforce, you can target them with automated campaigns advertising car maintenance products or car accessories.
No one has to lift a finger.
2. A Lovely Paradox: More Personalization, Less Actual Interaction
As recent as 10 years ago (or even five if you were a late adopter), you had to have endless sales meetings to learn more about your customers from your sales department. What they like (other than your products, of course), why they buy when they buy and so on.
All this so you can send Jane a pre-Christmas email advertising a discount on a sweater she could buy for her father.
What a massive research endeavor to get such simple insights!
Now, your CRM and your ERP know all that beforehand. A quick glance at your dashboard and you’ll be able to send Jane an email with not just a sweater but with THE sweater she is most likely to buy.
This kind of personalization requires very little human interaction. You never had to speak to your sales reps. And you’ll never meet Jane.
Yet, she’ll get the perfect gift for her father every year and you’ll meet your sales quota and your marketing KPIs.
3. Better Conversion Rates (Also through Personalization)
If your CRO would need a boost, then personalized content is the way to go. AI can help you deliver ultra-personalized website experiences to your visitors.
My favorite trick: displaying the right content to the right visitors. By aggregating thousands of data points like device, demographics, location, past behavior, and more, AI knows which content and which offers to display to each visitor.
The results can be spectacular:
4. Better SEO (for Everyone)
Ever Googled something and stumbled upon crappy results on the first 10 positions? Conversely, have you ever worked extra-hard to optimize a post only to see that it ranks in the land of nowhere (read: anything after the first page of results)?
I don’t know about you but I have been in both those nasty boats.
But AI can save the day, both for the users and for the SEO content creators. As long as, much like marketing and sales peeps, these two work together, not against each other.
In fact, this particular love and peace story should be initiated by the content creators. They should spend the time to learn what their audience wants to read about and deliver just that — instead of endless snooze-inducing sales pitches.
But how can you know what your audience wants?
Glad you asked!
You see, this my favorite playground. The two digital marketing agencies I run, Idunn and Copywritech, focus on offering SEO content to clients in various fields.
So we know a thing or two about leveraging AI for better SEO results.
Here are a few tricks you can implement right away.
First off, note that you’ll always have the temptation to use broad, high-volume keywords. Fight it with all you’ve got! Those are not what your audience wants and those will definitely not pad your bottom line.
Instead, focus on long-tail, intent-oriented keywords, irrespective of their search volume. Remember: you don’t want to attract millions of visitors (traffic doesn’t pay the bills). You want to attract the right visitors aka the ones that can turn into buying customers.
Case in point: one of the blog posts on my agency’s blog is How to Find and Hire Rockstar Copywriters. It ranks for an obscure keyword that has 0 next to its search volume (see the screenshot below).
Despite this is, it managed to generate one very thrilled lead who turned into a customer quite quickly:
This was possible because we zeroed in on our buyer persona and learned how they speak and search.
We did that very easily: we started with our main keyword: copywriters — this is what we do. But on its own, this keyword means nothing for our business goals. People who search for it may be looking for copywriter jobs or for the meaning of the word. None of these will turn into ROI for us.
You can read more about understanding user intent and leveraging it here.
So we used a free trick: scrolled down to the SERP of copywriters and checked the “related searches” section. This helped us find terms like “hire copywriters” or “find copywriters”.
We didn’t stop there. We know that how-to guides are in demand. So we turned the keyword and the blog post into such a guide. This is how we ended up with “how to find and hire rockstar copywriters”.
It may be a mouthful but it does attract the right peeps.
This is the strategy we use every time we create a new blog post. With the help of AI, we find the right mix between our potential customers’ needs and our business goals. Right there, in that sweet spot, lies the formula for profitable, lead-generating content.
In fact, we used the same formula for one of our clients who, in the span of one year, managed to rank for every keyword they ever aimed for. You can find the full case study here.
5. Stay ahead of the competition
Chatbots are just the beginning of a long string of automated and AI-powered experiences you can deliver to your customers starting today.
Why should you care about them?
Something as simple as a pre-set Facebook message that greets your fans when they open the chat window can spark a conversation and be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Chatbots may not (yet!) be able to tackle a sales or a support inquiry from beginning to end flawlessly but they can definitely help shorten the time it takes you to get to a certain customer, especially during busy seasons.
Is AI the Future? How Can You Adapt?
AI is not the future, it’s the present. It’s here already. Yes, it can be improved and it will be. The same thing happened to literally everything, from TV sets to phones and computers.
Perhaps we will never be able to say that our entire marketing and sales strategy is powered and implemented by AI. Us, humans, can do things that no bot can.
But aren’t you happy that you can finally focus on the important and interesting things like strategy instead of wasting time on menial tasks that a bot can do?
By choosing the right AI-powered tools (from CRMs to marketing automation platforms), you can leverage the power of artificial intelligence easily. You don’t need to concede and let it run the game. But with its insights and numbers-crunching power, you’ll definitely have a head start.
As always, the trick is to find the perfect balance and learn which things AI excels at and which are better left to mortals.